A friend of mine referred to SEO as witchcraft, I have also heard it referred to as both an art and a science and even read an article which referred to SEO as akin to Alchemy. None of these descriptions Search Engine Optimisation really truly summarise what SEO is although they are quite flattering. I am not a magician, a witch or an alchemist but to the uninitiated it can seem like a kind of magic to see a website moving up the search engine rankings. Talk of blackhat and whitehat SEO does seem to confuse the non SEO aware even more but it really is not some mysterious dark art or sorcery, although I do find it quite amusing to hear it described in such ways by people who are quite net ‘savvy’.
Search Engine Optimisation is simply making websites and pages ‘friendly ‘to the search engines using the current most important ranking factors and signals to gain the reward of increased visibility . It can be roughly divided into two categories; on page SEO and off site SEO. Although SEO is constantly changing and being adjusted to make it more difficult to game and manipulate even Google itself has a guide to SEO , full of advice and tips on how to optimise a site for increased visibility.
On page SEO is the best place to begin usually because these factors and elements can be directly controlled and tweaked by the publisher of a webpage or the sitemaster. Roughly on site SEO consists of ensuring pages are well written and contain quality content that users and visitors of a website will find informative and useful. It has to be user friendly so much so that visitors to a website may even link to or bookmark your site because they liked it or found it relevant to what they were searching for. Relevancy is very important as search engines constantly strive to return the most relevant searches to users and disregard content that is of little value to users.
This is where Keywords come into the SEO equation. When someone is looking for something on the web they will use a search term to hopefully find what they want, someone looking for and SEO company in Manchester might use the search term and keyword Seo Manchester . After they have entered a search term it is then that the search engine algorithm begins its ‘magic’ returning what it determines as the most relevant websites and content available. This all happens very quickly and results are returned. If pages and websites have been optimised for certain keywords this should enable them to be visible. This is a very simple explanation but should help to dispel any notions of witchcraft and alchemy.
Another friend of mine was aware of SEO and even had a rudimentary understanding of how SEO worked but explained that they literally would not know where to begin if they were to undertake SEO for themselves on a site of their own. It starts on page as I have explained but it also begins with research. Keywords must be researched to ensure that the correct search terms are being targeted . No point at all working hard to chase a keyword if it is not relevant, that word again, but it is important that words and phrases targeted are of value and are terms that will be of value to the website. How many people search for this term? Do more people search for a similar term that is a variant of another keyword? These are the kinds of questions that should be answered before any optimisation for any keyword begins.
Do the HTML title tags contain relevant keywords to the on page topics? Do the meta tags describe what the pages are about? Are the relevant keywords included in the header tags and subheads? These are just a few of the questions that any competent SEO person should consider before they even begin to work on off site SEO and begin to build links to a domain . I am not going to touch upon off site SEO just yet as I have revealed enough of the basic factors there are to consider of the dark art and sorcery of Search Engine Optimisation. Only joking of course, personally I consider there to be no more hidden secrets in SEO anymore as it is a well trodden pathway and established profession that has been around awhile. I am not sure that SEO consultants would agree however as they prefer to keep the secrets of SEO to themselves and baffle clients with terminology that they do not understand. The only real secrets of SEO yet to be public are the ranking factors and signals that Google uses to determine SERPS. Go on Goolgle , just tell us. We probably know what they are anyway hopefully.